Tuesday, March 7, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 7, 2023

● “When my kids were growing up, they weren’t afraid of the bogeyman. They were afraid of social services,” a parent with disabilities (one of the groups most vulnerable to family policing), told The Colorado Sun. “People don’t think about how traumatic these investigations are for kids.” 

The comment is part of an in-depth examination of mandatory child abuse reporting laws in Colorado – which are pretty much like the laws everywhere else.  It is the most thorough, most nuanced story I’ve seen on this topic anywhere in the country. 

● In still another illustration of the enormous harm of mandatory reporting, a new study confirms earlier research.  The study finds that “fear of state punishment – in this case fear of child removal is a key factor in not only if, but how and where Black women access maternity and pediatric care.” [emphasis in original.] 

As it happens the first case example perfectly illustrates the enormous harm that can be done by questionnaires like the one on “adverse childhood experiences” being administered by doctors to poor women in California without informed consent.  

● Another key problem with child abuse reporting: allowing people to report with total anonymity.  That, too, is under scrutiny in Colorado.  KDVR-TV reports on a bill that would replace anonymous reporting with confidential reporting. 

● On this Blog: How the governor of Arizona caved-in to pressure from extremist lawmakers and fired the first Black director of the state family policing agency just weeks after hiring him; how the group home industry tried to cash in and how, in a state which tears apart families at a rate 75% above the national average and has an abysmal record on racial bias, the governor’s new choice for the job promises not to do “anything radical.”  By the way, Arizona media missed the real story.  Only ProPublica got it right.

● If you missed the webinar on the enormous harm done by the so-called Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, you can see it here: 

● In Ms. Melody Webb, executive director and founder of the Mother’s Outreach Network writes about how the best “child abuse” prevention program is a guaranteed income: 

Through Mother’s Outreach Network, I’ve met mothers who are forced to choose between working several jobs to provide for their child or getting to spend time at home with them. I’ve  (nmet mothers struggling to find stable housing and employment after their names were permanently placed on the child protection register, despite the fact that their cases ended with them keeping their children in the home. Too often, the system has charged parents of neglect without pausing for a second to consider the role that poverty plays in these situations. 

● With the Indian Child Welfare Act facing a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court, The Imprint reports that “a new think tank has formed to advance legal and political strategies to protect tribal sovereignty.” 

● On those rare occasions when children really must be taken from their parents, the least harmful option, by far, almost always is kinship foster care – placement with relatives or close family friends.  But foster care licensing standards often are geared to middle-class creature comforts.  Since most children torn from their parents are poor, kinship foster parents also are more likely to be poor, and unable to meet these arbitrary requirements, unrelated to health or safety.  The federal government is, at long last, proposing to change that, and several national organizations have announced a plan to help.

● Is there a state where so-called “child abuse pediatricians” aren’t allegedly out of control? The latest expose, called “Shaky Science, Fractured Families,” is from Mississippi Today.  Perhaps even more interesting than the behavior of the state’s only child abuse pediatrician is what happens when some child abuse pediatricians get together at conferences.  Consider how they treat some diagnoses that others in the scientific community question: 

At one conference on shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma, a speaker presented defense expert testimony alongside a picture of Pinocchio. The event concluded with doctors and prosecutors singing a song mocking skeptics of the diagnosis to the tune of, “If I only had a brain.” 

● And in Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reports, a family police caseworker “accused of lying to remove children from a home has agreed to a $6 million settlement with the family she separated.”  But she says the state should foot the bill because, she says, everything she did was “the result of instructions she received from others and that the State is ultimately responsible” for the child’s removal.”